Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How To...Make Pesto

For some reason basil grows really well in our yard. Other plants have good years and bad years but the basil just comes back year after year. And lingers on after all the other vegetables have died off.

Even the basil was almost dead, so I decided that if I was going to make pesto this year, I'd better get started.

Just a quick gardening lesson: if you want your basil to concentrate its growing powers on the leaves themselves instead going to seed, you have to trim these pretty flowers off every once in a while.

Pick off all the leaves that look decent. This is a job your little ones can help with. Especially if it's the end of the season and the plant is just going to die anyway.

I took these pictures in late October and am really loving the green right now. So springy.

One thing, if you do have your kids help, you should sort through and make sure you only have leaves in your bucket.

Unless it's money.

Ingredients: Fresh basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese (real stuff or the green bottle stuff), olive oil and nuts (any kind).

Rinse your basil and pat dry gently. Don't wash the leaves until you're ready to make pesto. They mold easily if you don't get all the water off.

Peel a couple of cloves of garlic. You don't need to chop them since it's all going in the food processor.

Stuff your tiny food processor full of basil.

Add the garlic and Parmesan.

Now add the nuts. I've used pine nuts, walnuts, and almonds, toasted and untoasted. Whatever you have available. These are pine nuts. Mountain Man got them in his stocking last year for Christmas.

Add the oil.

Puree until smooth. Serve with crackers or pasta or just eat with a spoon.

If you aren't going to eat it right away, it will refrigerate for a few weeks or freeze for a long, long time. The recommendation is eight months, but I've had some in there for much longer, and it tastes fine. But please don't sue me if you leave pesto in your freezer for eight years, eat it and die.

Pick a container to store your pesto in. Any tupperware or jar will do. To help the top from going brown, layer a little olive oil over the top of the pesto before putting the lid on.

And store in your freezer. Look, there's my backup yeast, and pear butter, and chocolate chips, lots of them!

Homemade Pesto
from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

1/4 cup olive oil or cooking oil
1/2 cup walnuts and/or pine nuts
2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper

Combine oil, nuts, basil, cheese, garlic, and salt. Cover and process or blend until nearly smooth, stopping and scraping sides as necessary. Add pepper to taste. If you aren't serving the pesto immediately, separate into portion sizes and store in airtight containers.


Alyosha said...

I'm so jealous your basil thrives! Mine is dying and I'm so sad. My cilantro is on its last legs too. :(

AllisonK said...

There is nothing like great pesto!!

JBSquared said...

We love making pesto, and we always have too much leftover. So I use a tip I saw on the Food Network - pour your leftover pesto into an ice cube tray, once it's hardened, you can pop the cubes out and store them in a labled freezer bag. You can toss a cube or two with hot, cooked pasta and the heat from the pasta will melt the pesto. Voila! You can use one cube for a small serving, or serveral cubes if you're feeding a crowd!

It also defrosts quickly if you leave it on the counter for a few minutes while you're preparing your meal. So if you want to use it in sandwiches or such, it becomes a nice spead. Yum!

Anonymous said...

I've heard, though haven't tried it yet, that hulled sunflower seeds will work well for pesto too. I thought I'd mention it because they are significantly less expensive than pine nuts and walnuts and will not turn rancid as readily when at room temp. Another tip, if the basil is too much for you (some people complain that pesto is too potent) then you can balance it out with some fresh clean spinach leaves.
Great recipe! Thanks for all you do.

5joys said...

Hi! Your blog is so great! I chose it to receive a Kreative Blogger award. The award is designed to promote readership of your blog. Check out my blog at http://justorganizeyourself.blogspot.com/ to follow the rules and to copy and save the jpeg image to put on your site. Thanks for all the great tips!

Danielle said...

I just wanted to let you know that I blogged about this post and your English Muffin post on my post today. You can review it here: http://juanshappywife.blogspot.com/2009/01/this-week-thursday.html

Thanks for all the great tips and recipes.

Anonymous said...

I'm so jealous, we have such a short growing season for ours here, I usually just end up buying it at the farmers market by the bushel because it cost less than buying a plant each year.

Also jealous of your back yard of Rosemary.

Dita said...

Thanks for the Pesto recipe. I am also enthused now to plant basil in my garden.

I love your blog.- Dita.